This blog has been produced by CAFOD in Parliament – a new blog series intended to keep you up to date on CAFOD’s work in Westminster.
On October 11th, CAFOD Parliamentary friends gathered in Westminster to discuss climate change and practical ways of tackling this vital issue which is happening right now and threatening to push millions of the world’s most vulnerable people further into poverty.
Professor Chris Rapley – Director of Climate Change at UCL- gave an engaging presentation on “Climate change; the evidence and the challenge”, where he starkly outlined how our atmosphere has changed over the past 100 years and some of its devastating consequences. According to Chris:
“Climate change is a fact that cannot be ignored and the political heavyweights attempting to deny this reality are not only wrong but a dangerous distraction”.
Rising sea levels, dramatic changes in the atmosphere and the undeniable effects of rising temperatures, most recently visible in the tragedy unfolding in the Horn of Africa should be ringing alarm bells in every government across the globe. But for some reason, climate change seems condemned to the sidelines, as growth takes precedence over all else. If the evidence is there in front of our eyes, and the experts are crying out for governments to take action, what’s stopping them?
A recent study by the UCL published by Nature Neuroscience found that a surprising 80% of the population under-estimate the likelihood of “bad events” occurring to them; this means that the majority of the population will effectively ignore negative facts and underestimate risks. Thus, is it our eternal optimism that prevents us from taking the vital steps needed to avert environmental suicide?
Optimism may be good for your health but it will not prevent climate change. The evidence and the solution are out there, what’s missing is the political will to take these proposals forward. Parliamentarians are in an ideal position to lobby the Government to take action on climate finance at the G20 summit in November. Pretending climate change isn’t happening is not an option.
Practically speaking, if the damaging effects of climate change are to be addressed we must invest time and resources to reduce carbon emissions, produce green technologies and address disasters when they occur.
Where the resources will come from to fund these noble aims is the sticky political point. CAFOD, in coalition with Oxfam, Tearfund and Unicef are pushing for “innovative sources of finance” – a Financial Transaction tax or a levy on international shipping or even better – both.
Industries that do most damage to the planet should pay for its upkeep; the polluter pays principle would be a negligible price to pay for a sizable global profit.
Both Bill Gates and the European Commission agree that innovative sources of finance should be seriously considered. It is the only fair way of accumulating the kind of resources needed to combat climate change.
CAFOD are working with Parliamentary Friends who – following this inspiring meeting – have vowed to pressure George Osborne and David Cameron on the need for innovative sources of finance to fund mitigation and adaptation to climate change in the run up to the G20 meeting in November.
The case for action is clear and we must all wake up to the threat of climate change. Eternal optimism will not prevent it, but a levy on shipping can.